Need help with technique, please!

Discussion in 'Technique' started by foq1978, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. foq1978

    foq1978 New Member

    Since there aren't any stickers on the subject, where could I find good resources (tutorial, video tutorials, etc.) on finger techniques?

    I play bass for 15+ years and got an electric guitar 2 years ago. The transition is not as smooth as I would like it to be. My main areas of need are:

    - I'm not good with picks. Specially alternate picking.
    - I'm not good soloing. Mostly because my left hand is lazy / finger positioning is poor.
    - My fingers get jammed when I try, for instance, to make a barré chord such as

    7 < these
    7 < fingers
    7 < get jammed!

    Where could I start? Help please!
  2. JonnyDistance

    JonnyDistance New Member

    Basically, you completely need to retrain your hands. With alternate picking, you first should be sure you can down pick right. Make sure you hold your pick right, then work yourself up to strumming smoothly. Gradually, start working on your up strokes.

    Don't worry about soloing just yet if you're still learning technique. Learn scales as you go, and I'd personally recommend you teach yourself to riff before you solo. Tons of guitarists can jam on some chords, then tear up a cliched blues solo. Few take the time to create beautiful pieces with a little technique and cognitive thought.

    Barre Chords are tough! It took me a while to get them down... What I did was pick a band I'm into that uses them and learne a bunch of their songs. For me, it was A.F.I. (Sing The Sorrow, specifically "The Leaving Song, Pt. 2" got me into it). Just keep practicing, you'll get it down!
  3. brtmont

    brtmont New Member

    Hello, Back in the days of college classical guitar class my instructor told me about a book that helped me out a bunch. It was called "PUMPING NYLON" and it was a great tool for working out the fingers of the fretting hand.Like always start slow and work with a metranome and eventually the change in technique will happen.
  4. mrspiffy

    mrspiffy A member of the Spiffy Club.

    As far as training with alternate picking, my wife got me the Stylus pick. It's helped me a fair bit and I can pick significantly faster than I used to and I almost always alternate pick now. I've been pretty pleased with it, but your image may vary... Good luck!
  5. Andew

    Andew New Member

    Are trying to get into guitar solo? If you've been playing bass for 15 or more years, consider in staying there. The bass is good for rhythm, there're hundreds of playing techniques and also solo improvisation. To be good at guitar soloing, you'll need to spend another 5 or more years to develop your fingers
  6. Luke Mosse

    Luke Mosse New Member


    I'm a guitar teacher and I teach people to do what you're asking. First off I'd say ignore some of the comments in previous posts - especially about it taking you 5 years to get your technique together, or stick to bass. It's not good advice. If you do the right things you can get good technique in a matter of months.

    1. Left hand fingers
    The first thing you should try is an exercise to get the fingers of your left hand working well on the fretboard. I call it the '1234' exercise. It's very simple and the aim is to get all 4 fingers working and to even the balance on your left hand so your hand isn't 'tipped' towards your index and middle.

    To do this, you start with your first finger in fret 1 on string 1 (the thinnest string). This is called 1st position. Play this fret 1 note, then play fret 2 on the same string with your middle finger, then fret 3 with your ring finger, then fret 4 with your little finger (pinky).

    Then, move everything up a fret, so your first finger is in the 2nd fret (2nd position). Repeat. Then move up another fret and so on, until your little finger is at fret 12.

    Don't rush, and use the very tip of each finger on the left hand. Imagine you are trying to pull yourself up on a ledge - that's the part of the finger you want to have hitting the fretboard. Try not to clamp between thumb and fingers, keep the hand relaxed and position the fingers then pull back with the whole arm. Minimise (optimise) pressure. Also, place your fingers towards then end of the fret just behind the metal of the next fret. This way it's easier to get a good sound.

    2. Alternate picking
    The aim here is to develop equal strength in the downstroke and the upstroke, and to develop a relaxed technique where movement is minimised.

    The first thing is to make sure you are holding the plectrum correctly. Make sure that your thumb is NOT pointing in the same direction as the plectrum tip. This is good As you can see, the plectrum comes off at a 90 degree angle to the thumb. This is important. If the thumb and plectrum point in the same direction, then you will have to bend your right wrist an awful lot which is bad.

    When you approach alternate picking, you need to be very careful to isolate the right muscles at first. Lots of people try to use either their fingers (wiggling thumb) or their entire arm. I think the best movement to go for is the wrist. Hold out your plectrum hand as if you're going to shake hands. Now, relax the muscles along the topside of your wrist, so that your hand drops. That is the best action for your downstrokes. Re-engage the muscles and your hand will come up again. That is the best action for the upstrokes.

    Very slowly, work on controlling the muscles so that you RELAX on the downstrokes and CONTRACT on the upstrokes. For me, this was the absolute key to developing an easy and fast technique. Most people tense on the way up and tense on the way down. Because the muscles don't quite synch up, this means their hands end up getting really stiff and their technique fights their speed. It's hard to describe by text, but trust me, work on this method it's the best. If you want more detail, then check out the 'Guitar Craft' techniques by Robert Fripp, I think he has the best technique methods for picking.

    Practice slow speeds until you are sure you are doing the movement that you INTEND to do. Once you have this, speed will come. I would not try and aim for speed. Good technique brings speed. Going directly for speed usually fosters bad technique. Trust me.

    3. Chord technique
    That particular voicing you wrote isn't ideal for all players. I personally wouldn't play it. Far more common is to omit string 1 and barre using finger 3 (the ring finger) at fret 7.

    Another variation to include string 1 is to again use the barre, but not quite barre string 1. However, this is quite tricky, and depending on how long you've been playing, I'd say there are probably more effective things to practice than trying to master that particular voicing as written.

    I would recommend that you find a teacher who can show you where you're going wrong technique-wise and correct your mistakes early.

    Hope this helps and have fun.
    SolidFooting likes this.
  7. SolidFooting

    SolidFooting Member

    I'm a guitar teacher too, but after reading that, I don't think I'm as good a teacher as Luke Mosse is. That was very well stated. :)
    Luke Mosse likes this.
  8. MarkM

    MarkM Member

    Yeah, for that D chord, the sixth string usually isn't played (it's not wrong, but much of the time you want the bass to be the root note, at least when you're starting out), and as Luke said, the three notes on the 7th fret are played with the the third finger barred. Trying playing a standard open A chord with just your third finger, then just move up the fretboard using your first finger as the barre. Same with an open E chord - play it with your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers, then just slide up using your first finger the same way.

    I'd tend to learn simple blues fills, and "Chuck Berry" riffs first before trying lengthy solos. If you put in the practise, it certainly won't take you 5 years to master basic bar chords and picking techniques (and solos either). I was playing in pub bands after 2 years of playing. In 6 months, barre chords will seem so simple you'll wonder what the problem was. Trust me - I remember thinking they were a huge hurdle, but I assure you they're not. Stick at it, your muscle memory will kick in faster than you think if put in the practise. Also, when you're practising, always start with the hardest thing you're trying to learn, and when your start getting frustrated, have a break. That might sound simple, but when you're really getting p****d off, you won't get anywhere. It's better to practise for 30 minutes 6 times a day, than 3 hours straight.

    Best wishes,

Share This Page